If you like Denny, you’ll like the Real Bill

(“The harder you work, the luckier you get.”) 

Back in the mid 60s, the first serious riding book I ever read (Walter Farley didn’t count) was Riding and Jumping by Bill Steinkraus. He was a role model: smart, articulate, a true amateur, and a very good rider. He graduated from Yale the year that I was born, and later in my dorm at school I watched him become the first American to win Individual Gold which he did on Snowbound at the Mexico City Olympics. This was long before I envisioned myself as a full time horse person, but the image of being a successful rider and having a normal career was very appealing to me.

Purloined from a Face Book post, here Bill Steinkraus’ words of wisdom:

“No. 1. Get your tack and equipment just right, and then forget about it and concentrate on the horse.
No. 2. The horse is bigger than you are, and it should carry you. The quieter you sit, the easier this will be for the horse.
No. 3. The horse’s engine is in the rear. Thus, you must ride your horse from behind, and not focus on the forehand simply because you can see it.
No. 4. It takes two to pull. Don’t pull. Push.
No. 5. For your horse to be keen but submissive, it must be calm, straight and forward.

No. 6. When the horse isn`t straight, the hollow side is the difficult side.
No. 7. The inside rein controls the bending, the outside rein controls the speed.
No. 8. Never rest your hands on the horse’s mouth. You make a contract with it: “You carry your head and I’ll carry my hands.”
No. 10. Once you’ve used an aid, put it back.

No. 11. You can exaggerate every virtue into a defect.
No. 12. Always carry a stick, then you will seldom need it.

No. 13. If you`ve given something a fair trial, and it still doesn’t work, try something else—even the opposite.
No. 14. Know when to start and when to stop. Know when to resist and when to reward.

No. 15. If you’re going to have a fight, you pick the time and place.

No. 16. What you can’t accomplish in an hour should usually be put off until tomorrow.
No. 17. You can think your way out of many problems faster than you can ride your way out of them.
No. 18. When the horse jumps, you go with it, not the other way around.
No. 19. Don`t let over-jumping or dull routine erode the horse’s desire to jump cleanly. It’s hard to jump clear rounds if the horse isn’t trying.
No. 20. Never give up until the rail hits the ground.

No. 21. Young horses are like children—give them a lot of love, but don’t let them get away with anything.
No. 22. In practice, do things as perfectly as you can; in competition, do what you have to do.
No. 23. Never fight the oats.
No. 24. The harder you work, the luckier you get.”

~Bill Steinkraus